A cross-country cycling trip is hard for anyone. But for Ian Chiasson, his Memories in Motion tour is difficult in more ways than one.
He inevitably thinks of his best friend, Michael George MacLean and MacLean’s girlfriend, Angela Marie Smits, who were killed more than three years ago by an impaired driver.
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“This trip is for him,” said Chiasson.
Cycling from Victoria to Chiasson’s home of Cape Breton, the 23-year-old and his cycling partner, New Brunswick’s Dana Hamm, 33, made a stop at city hall here yesterday, where they were welcomed by Mayor
Larry O’Brien, police and members of the MADD Ottawa chapter.
“This reminds us of the true cost of having another drink for the road,” said O’Brien. “You should be very proud of what you are doing.”
The pair set out from Victoria on May 13. They towed their own trailers and had no support vehicles. Travelling up to 150 kilometres a day, they find sleeping accommodations where they can.
“I did lose a best friend, but I can’t even imagine what his family is feeling,” Chiasson said.
This event raises awareness about impaired driving, said Mike Francis, chapter president of MADD Ottawa.
Last year in Canada, 190 Canadians were injured and four people killed every day as a result of impaired driving. In addition, MADD Ottawa’s victim counselling services served 34 individuals last year, said Francis.
Still, DUI charges have declined in Ottawa in the past year, O’Brien said, and that’s thanks to the work of police and the public.
Fighting impaired driving is not something police can do alone, said Chuck Kaizer, Ottawa OPP detachment commander. Public awareness is the biggest way of getting the message out.
The weather has been favourable for most of the journey, said Hamm. Still, it’s not easy.
“There are times when you think you’re not able to complete it,” said Hamm. “But the cause has really kept me going.”